Skip to content Skip to navigation

Building Student Reasoning Capacity

Helping Students Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them
Course Description: 

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . . using technologies that haven’t yet been invented . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet. —The Jobs Revolution by Richard Riley

As teachers, we want to help students develop the necessary tools to solve unfamiliar problems both inside and outside the classroom (not to mention motives beyond the future job market). Reasoning plays a significant role in this endeavor. This course will explore both content and pedagogical choices that will help students develop mathematical habits of mind to build reasoning capacity. For example, we are happy when students see patterns, but we should be even happier when they can make sense of these patterns mathematically. 

Course participants will actively engage in doing, making sense of, and reflecting upon mathematics and teaching. Our goal is for this course to be challenging (in a good way) both mathematically and pedagogically. Relatedly, the course will also explore the importance of perseverance, and discuss strategies to help students increase confidence, embrace productive failure, and foster a growth mindset.

Keywords: math, reasoning, sense-making, mathematical habits of mind, pattern-making, perseverance, math confidence, productive failure, growth mindset

Audience: Designed for grades 6 - 12 teachers of mathematics Dates: August 1 - 5; See Festival Schedule for times
Format of Course: In-person at Stanford University, part of the Stanford Teaching Festival Cost*: $550 - groups of 3+ paid by school, and international participants
$600 - individual
Units: 2 Status: Registration opens February 1

*Please note: The cost for this course includes parking, a light breakfast, lunch, and reception. This cost does not include lodging or transportation. Please see the Festival Location, Lodging, & Transportation page. 

Course Facilitators: 

Anna Blinstein is passionate about mathematics education. She has a B.A. in Mathematics and Molecular Biology and is a graduate of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, where she became interested in teaching mathematics with rich tasks, projects, and modeling activities. Anna has been teaching math to middle and high-school aged students for 10 years and is a founding teacher of the Nueva Upper School, which opened in 2013. This is Anna's first year teaching at the Stanford Summer Teacher Institute.

Avery Pickford is currently a fifth- and sixth-grade math teacher at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA. He has taught math and science for seventeen years to students ranging from third grade to graduate school. He enjoys leading and participating in quality professional development and is always eager to discuss mathematics as a verb.